9:40 PM ET
- Royce YoungESPN Staff Writer Close
- Covers the Oklahoma City Thunder for ESPN.com
OKLAHOMA CITY — With 33 points, 11 rebounds and 14 assists against the Utah Jazz in a 112-104 Thunder win Saturday, Russell Westbrook recorded his 32nd triple-double of the 2016-17 campaign, passing Wilt Chamberlain for the second-most in an NBA season.
"It's amazing what he's done," Thunder coach Billy Donovan said.
Westbrook, who has a knack for speedy triple-doubles, notched this one with 8:50 remaining in the third quarter with a rebound. After the 10th rebound, he scored 20 of his 33 points and picked up only two more assists and one more board.
"I just play," Westbrook said of his switch between distributor and scorer.
Next up, and last up, for Westbrook: Oscar Robertson, who had 41 triple-doubles in the 1961-62 season. Westbrook has 16 games to reach nine triple-doubles and catch Robertson. What previously seemed to be an unbreakable record — along the lines of Joe DiMaggio's 56-hit streak — is within Westbrook's sights.
"For Russell? Yeah. Easily, man," said guard Andre Roberson when asked if he ever saw Robertson's mark as attainable. "Dude's a beast. He's a freak of nature. I don't think anything's impossible for Russ, to be honest with you. If he puts his mind to it, he's going to go out there and get it done. He's just all about winning, and if triple-doubles come along with it, so be it. That's what I like about him."
Westbrook's previous triple-double high for a season was 18, set last season.
Westbrook has spent the season climbing the triple-double charts, passing a number of players on the all-time list. With 69 in his career, Westbrook needs nine more to tie Chamberlain for fourth all time.
"I couldn't tell you going into the season — it wasn't like I was looking [at] who the guys were with triple-doubles," Donovan said. "Certainly, it's been a huge focus and a lot of attention has been given to it, and rightfully so. You're talking about Oscar Robertson and Wilt Chamberlain, two of the greatest to ever play the game. They're impactful in the game, and I think when Russell is done with the game — when that time is — he's a guy you're going to look at and say what he's done throughout his career is historic."
The Thunder's success this season has largely been tied to Westbrook's impressive triple-double run. The Thunder are 26-6 this season when Westbrook records a triple-double, and 11-23 when he doesn't.
After 66 games, Westbrook is averaging a triple-double (31.9 points, 10.5 rebounds and 10.1 assists per game). He needs to average 9.5 assists and 7.8 rebounds in the Thunder's remaining 16 games to become the first NBA player to average a triple-double for a full season since Robertson did so in the 1961-62 season.